TUSD's post-deseg plan is a failure
Arizona Daily Star
March 2, 2009


By Herman K. Warrior

Special to the Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/education/282123


Representatives for African-American plaintiffs agree with the Star's editorial that the Tucson Unified School District's post-desegregation-case plan is "jargon-laden," "needs translation" and "reads like a report written by professional educators and lawyers" ("Read, comment on TUSD equity plan," Feb. 17).

It is misleading to imply that the plaintiffs had some input into the presented draft.

We attended two initial meetings June 9 and 10, 2008, and one meeting in January where there was a brief discussion concerning our reaction to the student-assignment proposal that would continue forced busing for mostly minority children but allows others to have a choice. This plan did not have the endorsement of the plaintiffs' two nationally recognized experts on school assignment.

The plaintiffs' representatives have asked the district's leadership to address the academic-achievement gap of African-American and Hispanic students which is the basis for all programmatic equity efforts. We were told that the School Board instructed the leadership to work on a plan for all students.

We agree that the district should have a plan for all students; however; a specific post-unitary plan should be developed to correct the inequities of the past and ensure that the future decisions of the School Board will not re-segregate the district.

U.S. District Judge David Bury, in his order dated April 23, 2008, gave helpful insight regarding what equity issues the post-unitary plan should address. This proposal neither addresses African-American parents' expectations nor the issues outlined by Bury.

The plaintiffs' representatives found that the proposals submitted for our review lacked clear, measurable goals; specific strategies based on current student data; district accountability; discernable benchmarks; or transparency of cost or budgeted activities. This proposal commits no one to be responsible for its outcomes.

TUSD's leadership has a track record of mismanagement. Its spending of more than $1 billion has left minority children no better off than they were 28 years ago. The district's performance has been disappointing and embarrassing.

The Tucson community assumed the issues of equity and opportunity for minority students were issues that the district continuously addressed. This appears to have been the case only where funding was important, but not the achievements of minority students.

African-American representatives are frustrated by the district's last-minute effort to meet the judge's time lines with a badly constructed proposal, without discussion, accountability or agreement.

We are disappointed again by the poor leadership, arrogance and a misrepresentation of what the TUSD community aspires to be.

African-American representatives call upon the district to re-evaluate its proposals and address the issues of the plaintiffs and Bury's concern for real accountability and transparency.

Write to Herman K. Warrior at HWarrior@csd.pima.gov